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Reviewing Electrical Drawings and Specifications
Chapter Two

Reviewing Electrical Drawings and Specifications

Today, many electrical contractors find themselves in a constant state of catch up. This can be overwhelming. During the bid process, it’s easy to rush and not fully review a complete set of construction drawings and specifications and only look through the electrical drawings and specifications. This results in a lack of proper understanding of the full electrical scope on the project and can be a costly mistake.

Can I Get By Only Reviewing the Electrical Drawing and Division 26 Electrical Specifications?

You can no longer rely on the design team to ensure all the information required to meet the eventual contract requirements have been placed in the Division 26 electrical drawing package. You should review the full set of construction drawings and pay close attention to the architectural, mechanical, communications and life safety to identify responsibilities that might overlap with other trades but fall on the electrical contractor’s list of responsibility. Generally, you’ll find a contractor responsibility schedule in the Division 1 specifications. You’ll also need to fully understand the building’s structural details that might not be depicted on the electrical drawings. This includes things like working height and unusual elevations that might affect your costs.

Do you need lifts to perform work in a certain area, increasing cost for the equipment rental and don’t forget about the increase in labor difficulty? 

These are common examples, often not found in the electrical drawings. However, the responsibility will lay with you to locate these activities and ensure that you’ve accounted for them. If you’re unsure, submit a request for information (RFI) to get clarification. This is a formal document that is submitted to the general contractor who tracks and forwards to the owner for clarification and then redistributes to all project bidders to ensure everyone is bidding the project apples to apples. Make sure you submit your RFIs by any predetermined deadlines and read through the entire list of questions and answers as they relate to electrical and trades that might affect your scope of work.

When Reviewing the General Conditions, Confirm the Following Details:

  • Review the responsibility schedule and confirm, is there any overlay with other divisions that fall under the electrical contractor's scope?
  • Are there any alternates?
  • What are the project tax requirements?
  • Should allowances be included in the bid price?
  • Are there special insurance requirements?
  • What are the retainage requirements?
  • Who furnishes and pays for temporary power?
  • Does the project require bid, payment or performance bonds?
  • What's the construction schedule and can you meet it?
  • Is there owner furnished equipment that you'll be responsible for installing?
  • What are the procedures for submitting change orders?
  • What's required to close out the project, i.e. as-builts, warranties, commissioning?

When Reviewing the Division 26 Electrical Specifications, Confirm the Following Details:

  • What grade of materials should be used, and what specific electrical equipment requirements are there for lighting, power or distribution systems?
  • Are there specific electrical installation methologies to be followed when installing branch lighting power or distribution systems?
  • Determine responsibility of costs. Who's providing the fire alarm, communications cabling, and who provides excavation and backfill, pole bases, equipment pads, and patches and paints?
  • Remember, anything you're not clear on will require clarification via request for information(RFI). You need to qualify these in your inclusions/exclusions to avoid any confusion with your bid price.

When There is a Conflict Between the Drawings and Specifications

In many cases, you’ll find a conflict between the drawings and the specifications, some examples include an electrical diagram that calls for one grade of wire while the specifications call for another grade of wiring.

This is common and you’ll want to find a reference in the specification that clarifies what supersedes the other. Generally, drawings will supersede the specifications about quantity and location, while the specification will supersede the drawings on material type, performance, and quality. Generally, the owner will include a clause that states in the event of a conflict, use the option with the higher quantity and highest quality. This covers the owner but puts you in a position of over bidding the project. In this case, it’s best to submit a request for information (RFI) for clarification and always qualify your bid confirming what was included and excluded in your bid price to avoid any confusion.

When There is a Conflict Between the Drawings and Specifications

In the next chapter, we will talk about how to perform a Quantity Takeoff for Electrical

Continue to Chapter 3

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